Symptoms, Causes, and Tips to Avoid Third Trimester Miscarriages

The loss of a pregnancy can be one of the most painful and devastating experiences of a woman's life, regardless of which stage it occurs in. The risks of a miscarriage are the highest during the first trimester, i.e., within the first three months or 12 weeks of the pregnancy. As you cross the 13th week and enter the second trimester, the chances of having a miscarriage reduce by a great deal. Studies indicate that in the second trimester of pregnancy, the risks of miscarriage are as low as 1%. Studies indicate that only about 1 in 115 pregnancies...

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...are at a risk of miscarriage in third trimester. The chances of miscarriage in third trimester are less than 1%.

This could be because by the third trimester, your baby will have grown and developed to a great extent and may also be able to survive, in spite of being born prematurely, if necessary. However, this does not mean that having a miscarriage in the third trimester is impossible.

Third Trimester Miscarriages

A miscarriage usually refers to the spontaneous loss of a baby developing within the mother's womb. The main cause for a miscarriage is chromosomal defects in the developing baby, right from fertilization. The working of the human body is astonishing as it has the ability to differentiate between normal babies and babies with deformities or abnormal growth patterns. Most babies with genetic disorders are expelled by the body itself, as early as the initial weeks of pregnancy. However, in a few cases, the pregnancy progresses and the body expels the baby at a much later gestational age, resulting in a miscarriage in the third trimester.

Symptoms of Third Trimester Miscarriage

Third trimester miscarriages are usually referred to as stillbirths or preterm deliveries that result in the loss of the baby due to its inability to survive outside the mother's body. The main cause for miscarriage in the third trimester is the existence of multiple gestations. The larger the number of babies developing simultaneously, the greater is the risk of miscarriage. A short interval between pregnancies can also render the uterus and cervix weak, thus leading to untimely labor.

Sometimes, the expectant mother's body does not respond well to substances present in the placenta resulting in high blood pressure levels and protein in the urine. This condition, known as preeclampsia, is one of the leading causes for preterm deliveries and miscarriage - third trimester. Women suffering from diabetes, hypothyroidism, uterine defects, connective tissue disorder, fibroids and polycystic ovary syndrome are also at an increased risk of having miscarriages. A change in bowel movements can lead to a miscarriage in the third trimester. In the case of constipation, the pressure exerted while trying to pass stools may lead to the water bag bursting, resulting in inevitable miscarriage. On the other hand, diarrhea can also cause premature labor as the frequent movement of the bowels stimulates the uterus. Physical and emotional shock, stress and overexertion are other factors that influence miscarriages in the third trimester.

What are the Causes of Miscarriage in Third Trimester?

Even though a miscarriage in the third trimester is not very common, there are many different factors that could lead to it. In fact, there could be more than one cause of a stillbirth or miscarriage in the third trimester of pregnancy. Given below are some of the most common reasons for third trimester miscarriage:

  • Abnormal positioning of the umbilical cord, or perhaps even a knot in the cord, which makes it difficult for the baby to get oxygen or nutrients
  • Cervical problems, where the cervix becomes weaker and softer, because of a condition known as cervical incompetence
  • Chromosomal defects and abnormalities that go unnoticed in the earlier stages of pregnancy
  • Crossing more than 41 or 42 weeks of pregnancy, without labor
  • Hemorrhages
  • Hormonal imbalances, where the body produces either too many or perhaps even too less hormones
  • Medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, affecting the pregnant mother
  • Nutritional deficiencies that lead to a lack of proper fetal growth and development
  • Prenatal tests like Amniocentesis or Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS), usually conducted after the 16th week of pregnancy
  • Problems that affect the placenta, such especially conditions like placental abruption or placenta previa
  • Severe infections such as measles, the flu and central nervous damage that affect the fetus
  • Structural abnormalities or the presence of fibroids in the uterus
  • Unhealthy practices Consuming alcohol, smoking or taking illegal drugs during pregnancy

Though rare, one of the possible causes of a stillbirth or a miscarriage in the third trimester of pregnancy could be incompatibility between the mother's blood group and the child's blood group. This usually does not lead to a stillbirth in the first pregnancy.

Signs of Stillbirth in the Third Trimester

There are several different signs and symptoms that are indicative of a stillbirth in the third trimester. The common symptoms of miscarriage in the third trimester are more or less the same as the first or second trimester. However, the severity of the symptoms could be a lot worse. Given below, as some of the most common signs of miscarriage in third trimester:

  • Heavy vaginal bleeding
  • Spotting or colored discharge from the vagina
  • Severe cramps and pain in the abdominal region
  • Pain in the lower back
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Pain in the shoulder
  • Tightness and bloating feeling the stomach

It is not necessary for you to experience all the symptoms of a miscarriage. There are several women who have only one or two symptoms or perhaps even none of the symptoms of a miscarriage at all. In such instances women only realize that they have had a miscarriage when they go to the doctor, for a routine checkup. You also need to look out for the absence of the normal pregnancy symptoms like nausea and morning sickness, or the lack of fetal movement, all of which point towards a miscarriage.

It is not necessary that bleeding in the third trimester always results in a miscarriage. There have been several women who have experienced bleeding and other such symptoms in the third trimester, but have gone on to deliver healthy babies. In such instances, the symptoms could be indicative of a serious problem, which needs to be addressed by a doctor immediately. You and your health care provider may be able to avert a miscarriage, by taking the right steps in time. Apart from following a specific diet, your doctor may ask you to take complete bed rest for a few weeks or till the danger passes. However, at times, it may not be possible to prevent a miscarriage, in spite of taking preventative steps.

Many of the symptoms of a miscarriage are common to the signs of labor. If you have crossed 36 weeks of pregnancy, your baby is regarded as a full-term baby and is strong enough to survive in the outside world. In such cases, your doctor may induce labor or may perform an emergency C-section.

Avoid Third Trimester Miscarriage

A healthy lifestyle is one of the main requirements for a healthy pregnancy. Skipping of meals should be avoided at all costs. Small healthy meals should be eaten throughout the day. Vegetables, fruits and nuts are especially beneficial as they provide the body with plenty of nutrients and fiber. Adequate rest and light exercise also promote a healthy pregnancy. Smoking, alcohol intake and the consumption of recreational drugs like cocaine should be avoided completely as they are known to harm the growth of the developing baby, leading to miscarriages in most cases. However, in spite of great care, a miscarriage is sometimes inevitable.

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